Rarely does a book appear that is both enjoyably readable and highly informative. Such a rare gem is Gabrielle Glasser’s Her Best-Kept Secret:. Why Women Drink – And How they Can Regain Control. The sub-title correctly suggests the practical value for women (as well as men) to apply evidence-based approaches to either control their drinking or to abstain.

Her Best-Kept SecretThe author’s balanced look at the current status of drinking among women and her fascinating look at how women’s’ drinking has changed over time is insightful and provides context.

Glaser demonstrates that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for everyone. She explores why a program might be effective for one person.  Then she shows it may not only be ineffective but actually counterproductive for another.

Her Best-Kept Secret explains why Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) tends to be especially ineffective for women.

A.A.was developed by men. Studies show that men feel more powerful when they drink. Women, by contrast, feel calmer and less inhibited.

The program urges members to surrender egos to a higher power. This might work for men, but women don’t typically suffer from an excess of hubris in the first place. Many of them are drinking because they feel powerless in other areas of their lives.

The logic is off. Sponsors in A.A. need only be in the program themselves, not doctors or experts at treating a condition like alcohol dependence. This was understandable when A.A. was developed in the 1930s, but our understanding of brain chemistry has evolved a great deal since that time. It is irresponsible to imbue them with such power, and it can often lead to one of the more sinister aspects of A.A. for women: sexual exploitation.1

Her Best-Kept Secret is highly recommended for anyone seeking help with their drinking or that of a loved one. It’s useful for both for those who want to reduce their drinking and those who want to abstain.

A.A. and other 12 step programs help some people. But they fail about 95% of members.This is lower than the natural remission rate. Using no program is successful for about 36% of alcoholics. That’s according to U.S. federal government research.

There are many non-12-step options available. They include these.

LifeRing Recovery.

HAMS (Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support).

Women for Sobriety.

Moderation Management.

Rational Recovery.

SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training).

SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety).

Life Process Program.


1. Her Best-Kept Secret.

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Filed Under: Reviews of Alcoholism Programs & Materials